What it takes to be India's Top Paid CEOs: Career path, Insights, Compensation, Leadership & more.

Top-Paid CEOs in India & Their Career Trajectories

December 15, 2023

Becoming a top paid CEO in India requires a strategic approach in career. Starting from education, geographical exposure, industrial exposure, and understanding of finances, there are many criteria that may impact your remuneration.

Saving you 20 hours of research, we have curated all essential information for you in this blog. Understand the leadership style, career trajectory, remmuneration and more to shape your journey to the top!

“A leader is not someone who just talks about getting things done—they contribute all the time." - Hap Klopp, Hult professor and 20-year Founder/President/CEO of The North Face.

What it takes to be the top-paid CEO in India!

Many CEOs will likely tell you, that it isn’t often a straightforward climb.

Embarking to become a top-paid CEO in India is no simple feat!

If you aim to progress to a senior executive position, several practical steps can accelerate your journey up the ladder.

The article delves into the career trajectories of India's Top Paid CEOs for the year 2023: Salil S Parekh, Thierry Delaporte, Rajesh Gopinathan, and Puneet Chhatwal, and offers valuable lessons for aspiring leaders.

It explores the strategies and steps that these CEOs employed to reach the pinnacle of success and includes anecdotes of their triumphs and challenges. The article aims to guide emerging leaders on their journey by providing insights into the experiences of these successful CEOs.

What you’ll learn:

  • The steps you need to take to get to where you want to be.
  • Learn from the stories as well as anecdotes of the successes —and failures—of companies and CEOs.

Good leaders “walk the walk” too, actively contributing to the success of the team.

Don’t believe us? Here’s how you can watch these Super Leaders in action. Join Sparklehood! The Network of the TOP 2% Senior Professionals!

1. Salil S Parekh: The Top Paid CEO in India for 2023 - Nurturing Diversity and Global Leadership

Infosys CEO Salil Parekh's compensation was 56.44 crore in FY23. Parekh's remuneration consists of base pay, retiral benefits, and fixed salary.

Salil S Parekh, India's Top Paid CEO: Compensation, Career Trajectory, Insights, & more.

Career Trajectory:

Salil S Parekh's journey to the helm of Infosys is a result of his decades-long commitment to the IT industry.

Before assuming the role of CEO and MD at Infosys, Parekh held critical positions at Capgemini. His tenure as the Head of Cloud Infrastructure Services, Sogeti, and Cloud Services, coupled with his leadership in Asia-Pacific, North America, and the United Kingdom, showcased his global perspective and strategic prowess.

You can read more about him here.

Contribution to Growth:

Parekh's impact on Capgemini's growth was profound. Serving as the CEO of the Application Services Strategic Business Unit, he spearheaded operations across 12 countries, overseeing over 27,000 employees.

His leadership in North America, the UK, and the Financial Services business unit contributed significantly to the company's global footprint and reinforced his reputation as a transformative leader. You can consider that Capgemini's growth under his leadership and his understanding of global business dynamics adds to why he is highly valued - earning him the rank of Top paid CEO in India, 2023.

Learnings:

Parekh's diverse experience across sectors and geographies highlights the importance of adaptability. His journey emphasizes the need to embrace varied roles, from partner positions in consulting firms to leadership roles in renowned financial and manufacturing companies.

Parekh's advice is clear: Seize opportunities to broaden your skill set and stay open to diverse challenges, as they often pave the way for executive leadership roles.

2. Thierry Delaporte-  Strategic Focus on Digital Transformation

Delaporte received a salary of about Rs 82 crore for the fiscal year 2023. Thierry Delaporte’s compensation rose by 3.3% in this fiscal year compared to the fiscal year 2022, according to Trendlyne. Delaporte got $1.3 million in salary and allowances, $1.5 million in variable pay, other income of $5.2 million and about $760,000 in long term compensation.

Career Trajectory:

Thierry Delaporte's rise to prominence includes notable roles at Capgemini and Wipro before becoming the CEO and MD of Wipro Limited. His journey showcases a strategic blend of global leadership roles and a comprehensive understanding of the IT industry.

Contribution to Growth:

Delaporte's contribution to Wipro includes steering the company through a dynamic market by focusing on digital transformation and client-centric solutions.

His leadership was pivotal in enhancing Wipro's capabilities and expanding its global reach.

Learnings:

Delaporte's journey underscores the significance of continuous learning and adaptability. Embracing new technologies and staying ahead of industry trends are critical aspects of his success.

His advice resonates with aspiring leaders, emphasizing the importance of staying curious and evolving with the rapidly changing business landscape.

3. Rajesh Gopinathan: Leading Through Digital Evolution

Former TCS CEO Rajesh Gopinathan's salary increased by nearly 13.2% YoY to around ₹30 crore in FY23, while his salary spiked almost 118% in three years. Gopinathan's total compensation package comprised a salary of Rs 1.73 crore; benefits, perquisites, and allowances were Rs 2.43 crore; and a commission Rs 25 crore.

Career Trajectory:

Rajesh Gopinathan's journey from the early days at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) to becoming its CEO and Managing Director reflects a commitment to excellence and innovation.

Gopinathan's experience spans diverse roles within TCS, showcasing his deep understanding of the company's operations.

Contribution to Growth:

Gopinathan's leadership at TCS witnessed significant milestones, including the company's emergence as the largest IT services provider in India.

His strategic vision and focus on digital transformation positioned TCS as a global leader in the IT industry.

Learnings:

Gopinathan's career advice revolves around the importance of fostering a culture of innovation within organizations.

Encouraging teams to embrace technological advancements and nurturing a spirit of continuous improvement are essential elements for success in the service industry, according to Gopinathan.

4. Puneet Chhatwal: Customer-Centric Leadership in Hospitality

The Taj Hotels CEO Puneet Chhatwal got 37.5 percent jump in his FY23 remuneration at Rs 18.2 crore. The break of his pay in FY23 is: Salary: Rs 7.44 crore, Benefits, Perquisites and allowances: Rs 3.50 crore, Commission: Rs 4.27 crore, Additional Incentive Remuneration: Rs 3 crore.

Career Trajectory:

Puneet Chhatwal's journey from the hospitality sector to leading Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) as its CEO and Managing Director exemplifies adaptability and resilience.

His experience includes leadership roles at global hotel chains, showcasing his expertise in the hospitality industry.

Contribution to Growth:

Chhatwal's tenure at IHCL has been marked by strategic initiatives, including the launch of new products and services, and a focus on enhancing customer experiences.

His efforts have contributed to the company's growth and strengthened its position in the competitive hospitality sector.

Learnings:

Chhatwal's advice centers on the significance of customer-centric leadership.

Understanding and prioritizing customer needs, coupled with a commitment to innovation, are crucial for success in the service industry, according to Chhatwal.

💡 Pro-tip: Over 40% of the CEOs of Fortune 100 companies have MBAs. For those whose academic background isn't in business, pursuing an MBA can provide the broad, fundamental knowledge needed to stand out. The academic journey of these CEOs highlights the role of continuous education in building a strong foundation for executive leadership.

Beyond Paychecks: The Impact of High-Earning CEOs on India's Economy, Society, and Future

The stratospheric salaries of India's top CEOs often spark fiery debates, with critics questioning the obscene wealth disparity and the disconnect between executive pay and employee wages. While the headline-grabbing numbers undoubtedly raise eyebrows, the impact of high-earning CEOs extends far beyond mere paychecks, weaving a complex tapestry of influence that touches various aspects of the Indian economy and society.

Driving Economic Engines

At the forefront of this impact lies the undeniable role these CEOs play in driving economic growth. They steer the country's leading corporations, often operating in crucial sectors like IT, pharmaceuticals, and manufacturing. Their strategic decisions, innovative ventures, and global expansions translate into job creation, increased exports, and a strengthened national GDP. Take, for instance, the IT behemoth Wipro, led by Thierry Delaporte. His vision and execution have not only propelled Wipro's market dominance but also created a vast pool of high-skilled IT jobs, contributing significantly to India's burgeoning tech scene.

Beyond Financial Numbers

The contributions of high-earning CEOs go beyond mere financial metrics. They play a crucial role in shaping India's global image. Pawan Munjal, the head honcho of Hero MotoCorp, has not only transformed the iconic two-wheeler brand into a global powerhouse but also spearheaded initiatives like Project Leap, fostering technical and vocational education, thereby empowering the youth and bridging the skill gap.

Leading by Example

These high-profile leaders serve as role models and mentors, inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders. Their success stories, often forged through grit, determination, and exceptional talent, offer valuable lessons in leadership, risk-taking, and navigating the complexities of the corporate world. Sandeep Kalra, the visionary behind Persistent Systems, exemplifies this perfectly. His humble beginnings and meteoric rise in the tech world serve as a powerful testament to the boundless possibilities that await those who dare to dream big.

Steering the Ethical Compass

However, the immense power and influence wielded by high-earning CEOs come with immense responsibility. They are entrusted with navigating the often murky waters of ethical dilemmas and upholding the highest standards of corporate social responsibility. Issues like fair labor practices, environmental sustainability, and data privacy demand their unwavering attention and commitment. Rajesh Gopinathan, the architect of TCS's digital transformation journey, has demonstrably prioritized ethical considerations, integrating sustainability and responsible AI practices into the company's core values.

Adapting to the Evolving Landscape

The future of CEO compensation and impact in India is intertwined with the evolving business landscape. The rise of sustainability as a key metric, coupled with increasing demands for diversity and inclusion within leadership roles, will undoubtedly reshape the way we perceive and evaluate executive success. Additionally, the rapid advancements in artificial intelligence and automation necessitate that future CEOs possess the agility and vision to adapt to and harness these disruptive technologies.

While the debate surrounding high-earning CEOs in India will likely continue, it is crucial to recognize that their impact extends far beyond their hefty paychecks. They are engines of economic growth, global brand ambassadors, role models, and stewards of ethical practices. As the Indian business landscape navigates the complexities of the 21st century, the true measure of a CEO's success will lie not just in their bank accounts but also in their contributions to building a sustainable, equitable, and thriving future for the nation.

Actionable Tips for Your Journey From The Top Paid CEOs in India:

Dreaming of joining the ranks of India's elite corporate leaders, whose names grace headlines with their astronomical paychecks? The journey to a "Top Paid CEO" title is paved with strategic steps and intentional choices. Forget serendipity – those colossal pay packages are the reward for meticulously honing skills, building a robust network, and demonstrating an unwavering commitment to growth. Here are top 3 takeaways from their journey that you can incorporate to your career for 10X faster career boost:

  1. Typically, future CEOs navigate their way through substantial operational roles, sometimes running large or international divisions before assuming the top job. Having a strong financial background can be a significant asset in this climb.
  2. Proactively taking on assignments that require travel or relocation demonstrates commitment and provides opportunities to gain international or travel experience, something that is expected of future CEOs. Good leaders actively contribute to the success of the team.
  3. You are the average of the 5 people around you! If you want to reach the top, broaden your network and surround yourself with the who’s-who of the corporate world!

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Also read: The Power of Talent Pools: Leveraging Pooling Strategies to Stay Ahead in a Competitive Job Market